Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sanity Arguments in|Werewolf Murder Trial

SAN LUIS OBISPO (CN) - A mentally ill man who claimed he was a werewolf had no reason to murder his neighbor unless he believed she was a vampire, his attorney argued Monday.

But a prosecutor said that while Mark Andrews does have a 20-year history of mental illness, he hadn't shown any signs of psychosis or delusions for four years before the murder or for several months afterward.

"Simply having a mental illness is not enough to establish insanity," deputy district attorney Matt Kraut told jurors.

Andrews, 51, of Atascadero, was convicted on Feb. 27 of murdering Colleen Barga-Milbury, a 52-year-old widowed mother.

The San Luis Obispo County jury and Superior Court Judge John Trice on Monday heard hearing closing arguments in the sanity phase of Andrews' trial.

According to trial testimony and police reports, Andrews drove to his neighbor's house on May 22, 2013, knocked on the door and shot her two times with a lever-action .30-30 rifle.

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which requires him to prove that he did not know what he was doing when he shot Barga-Milbury, or that he didn't know it was wrong.

While the insanity defense is rarely used, due to the difficult burden, Andrews has a documented history of mental illness, going back to his first institutionalization, in 1993.

Even then, said his attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, Andrews believed he was a werewolf and that other people were vampires.

He has also believed he fathered several cubs with a she-wolf named Shanine Edwards, Funke-Bilu said in court. According to trial testimony, he also has believed that he was a warlock or Jesus Christ.

"This is the kind of person that if he's walking down the street, you take note and are apprehensive," Funke-Bilu said while displaying his client's jail booking photo.

After the murder, according to police reports, Andrews told investigators he believed Barga-Milbury was evil and that the voice of God had commanded him to kill her.

"He was not killing Colleen Barga-Milbury," Funke-Bilu said. "He was killing the being within her."

After the murder, Andrews bought beer from a Circle K, Kraut said, and appeared stable and cooperative when investigators came to his home during a neighborhood canvass. Multiple detectives said he denied involvement in the crime and showed no signs of psychosis.

When a TV reporter came to his home the day after the murder to interview neighbors about the crime, Kraut said, Andrews was responsive and organized in his thoughts about the victim.

"I've known her for a long time," Andrews said during the interview, which was played for jurors. "She was friendly, courteous, outgoing, active."

Andrews told the reporter that he knew Barga-Milbury had worked in food services at the nearby Atascadero State Hospital and lived with her son, then 15.

"They lived together alone, minding their own business," he said.

The culprit, he told the reporter, was an "animalistic bastard."

"No talk of vampires," Kraut told the jury. "No talk of werewolves and no talk of hearing the voice of God."

Two days after the murder, police were led back to Andrews after receiving a tip that he had a mental illness. Andrews consented to a search of his home, detectives testified, where police found spent shell casings and a cabinet stocked with rifles, including what was later determined to be the murder weapon.

Later, as they drove to the police station in a squad car, Funke-Bilu said, the delusions were apparent when he told detectives he had lived in medieval times.

"I remember burnings at the stake, decapitations," he said, according to a recording played for jurors.

Though all agreed Andrews was mentally ill, four psychiatric experts split on whether he was insane.

David Fennell, medical director of the Atascadero State Hospital, said Andrews has fixed delusions, meaning they don't go away. But the prosecution's key witness, forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie - a veteran of national news shows and numerous high-profile cases - disagreed.

"I think he has these delusional ideas that come and go and maybe have expanded over time," Mohandie said.

Kraut said no one, not even Andrews' treating psychiatrist, had reported him having schizophrenic symptoms for years before the shooting. And jail staff didn't notice any psychotic behavior for four months after Andrews was arrested, the prosecutors said.

When Andrews' mother visited him at the jail three days after the murder, he told her he wanted to die, according to another recording played for jurors.

"He wants to die because he knows what he did was wrong," Kraut argued.

Given that Andrews had documented bouts of psychosis in 1993, 1996 and 2009, it makes sense that he was psychotic during the murder, Funke-Bilu said.

"We know in 2013 he was psychotic because he killed his neighbor for no reason."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.